AMG Turns 15: Janitorial Staff Speaks

15 years ago, on May 19, 2009, Angry Metal Guy spoke. For the very first time as AMG. And he had opinions: Very Important Opinions™. The post attracted relatively little attention at the time, but times change and, over the decade and a half since then, AMG Industries has grown into the blog you know today. Now with a staff of around 25 overrating overwriters (and an entirely non-suspicious graveyard for writers on permanent, all-expenses-paid sabbaticals), we have written more than 9,100 posts, comprising over seven million words. Over the site’s lifetime, we’ve had more than 107 million visits and now achieve well over a million hits each and every month. Through this, we’ve built up a fantastic community of readers drawn from every corner of the globe, whom we have (mostly) loved getting to know in the more than 360,000 comments posted on the site.

We have done this under the careful (if sternly authoritarian) stewardship of our eponymous leader Angry Metal Guy and his iron enforcer, Steel Druhm, while adhering to strict editorial policies and principles. We have done this by simply offering honest (and occasionally brutal) takes, and without running a single advert or taking a single cent from anyone. Ever. Mistakes have undoubtedly been made and we may be a laughing stock in the eyes of music intellectuals, socialites and critics everywhere but we are incredibly proud of what AMG Industries represents. In fact, we believe it may be the best metal blog, with the best community of readers, on the internet.

Now join us as the people responsible for making AMG a reality reflect on what the site means to them and why they would willingly work for a blog that pays in the currency of deadlines, abuse, and hobo wine. Welcome to the 15th Birthdaynalia.

Thou Shalt Have No Other Blogs!


Thus Spoke

AMG and me

I probably have one of the least legit backstories of anyone writing here. Unlike many of you—readers and writers—I was not a long-time fan of the blog, discovering it only around a year or two before applying to join the staff. I was 20 before I really got into trve metal and completely abandoned metalcore. But now, I can hardly imagine a time when reviewing albums for AMG wasn’t a key part of my weekly routine (nor can I imagine a life without extreme metal, for that matter; funny how things can change so dramatically). As corny as it sounds, it’s the community I’ve found amongst this bunch of wrong’uns—all loveable misfits, nerds, and actually-big-softies-despite-seeming-tough the lot of us—that has made the biggest impact. I said as much in my year-end post, but I feel blessed to have such a great bunch of comrades to talk music, vent about life, and just share memes with. The excitement of being in what feels like a special little club of small repute in the metalsphere still hasn’t worn off, even if, when wearing my AMG Inc Staff Stash out and about, I know no-one will get the reference. They probably think, if anything, “Why is she wearing a t-shirt that says Angry Metal Guy? That’s dumb.” Oh, and yeah, I know I need to get a new avatar. Anyone wanna design one for me?

AMG gave to me …

Vorga // Striving Toward Oblivion – I’m so lucky I was reading AMG,1 because this one was weirdly under-mentioned elsewhere. I absolutely love Vorga—as Kenstrosity himself is well aware—but I probably wouldn’t really know who they were, were it not for his review of this album. It’s just fantastic. “Taken” remains an immovable feature on any cardio playlist I’ve made since its release. And the rest—”Starless Sky,” “Comet,” “Fool’s Paradise”—absolutely bops. Already knowing I loved black metal, finding a band in the genre whose music I quickly became obsessed with, and eagerly anticipated future releases from, was extra exciting, especially when paired with the opportunity to get early access to Beyond the Palest Star this year.

Déluge // Ægo Templo – When this dropped, Dear Hollow panned it as “a wearisome and exhausting listen.” Fortunately, my curiosity was piqued enough that I listened for myself, and I have to say, I thoroughly disagree with my fine, antlered friend. Ægo Templo is far from perfect, but my goodness did it resonate with me. Just after I had gone through a whole phase of discovering my appreciation for (coincidentally) exclusively French black and post-black artists (Alcest, Regarde les Hommes Tomber, Vous Autres, Celeste …) Ægo Templo found its way to me via a review on a site I had only just started visiting. While the band’s debut, Æther, is perhaps better conceived, this one somehow completely consumed me in a way the debut never has. The washing sounds of ocean waves, glorious, uplifting themes, and dour, scream-rent brutality hit me in all the right places. I revisit it regularly and I, for one, am very excited to see what comes next from the Frenchmen.

Amenra // Mass VI – I know I said I wasn’t reading the blog until a couple of years before my tenancy here, but I still came across the odd review here and there whilst browsing for new bands to listen to. Somewhere, I saw the name Amenra mentioned, and, taking to the internet, I was led to Dr Grier‘s TYMHM post on Mass VI. Thoroughly intrigued, I vividly remember pressing play on the embedded “Diaken” and how everything shifted as its eleven-minute runtime passed by. I had never heard vocals like that. Yes, I’d heard harsh vocals—barks, growls, gurgles, shrieks, you name it—but Colin van Eeckhout’s crippling, devastating screams of pure pain were something else. The album, endlessly bleak and incredibly beautiful, utterly tore me to pieces in a way few others have. And it led me to devour not only Amenra’s full series of Masses and other creations, but the rest of the Church of Ra Collective’s several discographies. “A Solitary Reign” is now one of my favorite songs. Ever. No matter what else they put out, Mass VI will probably always be my favorite Amenra album.

I wish I had written …

UlcerateShrines of Paralysis Review. As my favorite album from one of my favorite bands, reviewing Shrines of Paralysis would have been a dream. However, since it dropped about five years before my n00b tenancy began, it could never have been. Luckily for me, I will not have to contend with Kronos for reviewing rights, because the writing here, as with all his articles, is stellar. Unconsciously or not, I find myself emulating its subtle poeticism and easy flow. When Cutting the Throat of God comes, I hope my words can do an Ulcerate album as much justice as this review did.


Maddog

AMG and me

By chance, AMG’s first year was also the year that my enjoyment of metal hit escape velocity. After stumbling upon a sketchy webpage with an embed of Morbid Angel’s “Where the Slime Live,” I fell incorrigibly in love. After a few months following my nose, I found myself in the metal blogosphere, where I’ve lived ever since.

But AMG wasn’t where I landed. My first chaperones were Heavy Blog is Heavy and No Clean Singing. Without them, I would never have found Gorod, The Ocean, The Odious, Theory in Practice, or Enshine; and what would I have then? I discovered AMG a few years later, and the thrill of communally excavating new music shaped my life.

Over time, my musical community has expanded and become less faceless. Part of the reason is AMG, which has provided a firehose of new releases and a community of lovable idiots. Part of it is luck, such as my co-workers who swear by Blood Incantation. Much of it amounts to small acts of musical kindness. Engaging with friends on music warms my heart; getting dragged to a sketchy London punk venue and bonding with an indie friend over Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter were highlights of my year. Every stranger who’s welcomed me at a show has made my world less desolate.

Music is amazing in isolation, but it’s even better as a bridge between hearts. I’m thankful for everyone who’s held my hand on my musical voyages, including every writer and commenter here. I hope I can return the favor.

AMG gave to me …

Trees of Eternity // Hour of the NightingaleSteel’s 3.0 review of Hour of the Nightingale was heartfelt, eloquent, and dead wrong.2 All ten tracks brim with beauty and flawless songwriting. Trees of Eternity’s mammoth riffs and piercing bass contrast with elegiac strings and acoustic guitars, and both pack an emotional punch. Aleah Stanbridge’s vocal melodies complement both styles, with a rich timbre that tugs at my heartstrings. Hour of the Nightingale’s supple dance between extremity and somber beauty makes “My Requiem” and “Gallows Bird” all-time-great bookends. Hour of the Nightingale’s lyrics are the best I’ve ever heard, painting technicolor images of the prisons we cage ourselves in, and the powers and perils of human connection. Variously depicting a plea for emotional openness (“Condemned to Silence”), the paralyzing fear of alienating loved ones (“A Million Tears”), the isolating trials of self-image (“Broken Mirror”),3 and an uplifting reminder that darkness is transient (title track), like a best friend, this album has wallowed with me, encouraged me, and offered me concrete guidance. Without it, I’d have zero interest in doom metal. I wouldn’t express myself freely or hug my loved ones as often.4 But perhaps most importantly, I wouldn’t have Hour of the Nightingale.

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas // Mariner – Sure, I’d heard of Cult of Luna; I just paid them no attention.5 After one too many misfires with ISIS, I’d given up on post-metal altogether.6 Old man Huck’s review of Mariner convinced me to give the genre another shot. Lulling listeners with pulsating drum beats and meditative melodies, Mariner features the most explosive climaxes of Cult of Luna’s career. Julie Christmas unleashes my favorite extreme vocal performance ever, with blood-curdling screams from the terrifying depths of her heart. Christmas’ rhythmic vocals and Cult of Luna’s style elevate each other to make Mariner a true collaboration. Their lethal combination culminates in the emotional behemoth “Cygnus,” where a ferocious musical buildup colludes with four vocal tracks to deliver one of the greatest album endings ever. Mariner reeled me in and never let go. I’ve been a post-metal convert and a follower of the cult of Cult of Luna ever since. More broadly, I’ve grown to appreciate any album that whisks me into another universe, even if its melodies aren’t ground-breaking. I’ve grown to love hearing a vocalist bare their heart, whether it sounds lovely or grating. None of this was true for me a decade ago. It all started with Mariner.

Obsequiae // Aria of Vernal TombsAria of Vernal Tombs’ marriage of medieval harmonies and black metal riffs heralded a new direction for the genre and for me. Obsequiae’s soaring guitar leads and solos carry me away with their beauty. Tanner Anderson’s distinctive guitar lines bounce off each other playfully and join forces for miraculous climaxes. Armed with these harmonies, Obsequiae’s mysterious ability to transport me to an Arthurian countryside recalls Wishbone Ash’s classic Argus. Still, Aria doesn’t skimp on extremity. Black metal and evocative melodies coexist in strange harmony, while banging bass lines put the genre to shame. Obsequiae feels like America’s answer to Moonsorrow, adding an original twist to black metal without depriving it of its power. Aria helped me see black metal through a new lens and develop a soft spot for bands whose use of melody echoes Obsequiae (see Noltem and Inexorum), and artists who add a unique folk spin to black metal (see Véhémence). Obsequiae personnel overlaps also led me to Nechochwen, Ironflame, and Majesties. But there is only one Obsequiae. Aria is their peak.

I wish I had written …

LiveWireUnder Attack! [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]. Two years on, the thrill of Under Attack! has somehow heightened further. The killer tracks remain exhilarating, while my least favorite songs (“Conqueror” and “Lockjaw Deathroll”) have proved just as memorable as the others. The bonus tracks, which I’d previously thought deserved “only” a 4.5, now rank among my favorites, right through the First Fragment “Gula”-esque ending of “Demon’s Grip.” Kenstrosity‘s excellent write-up did justice to LiveWire; I’m merely jealous. Under Attack! is one of the greatest metal records ever, a Thundersteel for our generation (but somehow better). I wish it’d been my White Wizzard.


Itchymenace

AMG and me

I’ve always loved reading about music. At an early age, I’d pore over the liner notes to my parent’s Beatles records. As a teen, I collected Hit Parader, Metal Maniacs and Guitar World magazines. I hung on every word that Glenn Tipton, James Hetfield or Ozzy would say, and dreamed of being the one to someday write their stories. Reviews were a critical feature of these publications but magazines didn’t come with embeds. If the latest Dio or Scorpions record got a good write-up, you’d roll the dice, spend your money, and buy the album. On a good day, you’d coax your buddy into buying it and get a dubbed copy on cassette. Good reviews went a long way. For me, the opportunity to write for AMG was a chance to be a part of the medium that has brought me so much joy and steered me to so much good music over the years. Little did I know the hornet nest of opinions I was walking into.

AMG gave to me …

Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh SonIron Maiden // Seventh Son of a Seventh Son – For me, it’s not a single album review that means the most to me, it’s the complete Iron Maiden discography ranking. What a ride! Up until then, I had always held Number of the Beast as one of the greatest metal records of all time. Putting Seventh Son of a Seventh Son as number one challenged everything I believed in. But you know, after some tortuous soul-searching, I agreed. The argument was too good. This was the level of deep musical analysis that was missing from all the other metal blogs. And it was the most fun I had reading anything that year.

 

Rotpit // Let There Be RotSteel Druhm is a great writer. He sets the bar for all of us. I mean his opening line here goes for the scrotum and the funny bone all in one fell swoop. What follows is a deliciously amusing review that’s every bit as entertaining as the album it’s covering. I’m not huge death metal fan but Rotpit quickly ascended to the top of my favorites last year. It reminded me how fun music can be and how greatness transcends genre. It became an unwelcome running joke in our house that whenever someone suggested putting music on, I’d scream RooooooottttPiiiittttttt! Strangely, it never got picked. Their loss.

I wish I had written …

CruentusFossilized Review. I remember reading this review at work and doing everything I could to not laugh out loud or draw the confused glares of my co-workers. It took a good five minutes to settle and I’m still not sure my pancreas has fully recovered. This was also an “aha” moment for an impressionable Itchymenace trying to figure out the secret sauce in the AMG whopper. Here, Doc Grier both honors and expands upon the AMG mythology as only he can. He’s immensely talented and funny. If only he had good taste.

I wish I could do over …

Virgin SteeleThe Passion of Dionysus Review. I took so much shit for giving this album a 3.5. So, I’m here to say I was wrong. It should have been a 4.0. That’s right fuckers. Suck it hard. This is a great record with plenty of heart despite some production setbacks. Go ahead and come at me in the Slack channel or wherever you find me. My Virgin Steele is ready to taste blood.7

I wish more people had read …

DanavaNothing but Nothing Review. The opening paragraph of this review is my best work. I love how well it flows and how metal it is. Plus, this album kicked ass and more people should listen to it. Hit that link, fanboy!

 

 

 


Iceberg

AMG and me

Truth be told, I don’t remember the first time I laid eyes on www.angrymetalguy.com. One of the first reviews I remember was GardensTale’s evisceration of Jordan Rudesssolo album, an assessment I begrudgingly agreed with, regardless of my then full-on Dream Theater fanboy status. What I do recall is searching the internet of the early 2010s for any source of intelligent, measured criticism of music that didn’t reek of ad-revenue inflated cronyism. I imagine many of you, dear readers, have a similar story. My infatuation with—and eventual reliance on—AMG unfolded in anachronistic fits and starts: a Fleshgod review here (King), an Allegeaon pan there (Proponents of Sentience). Before I knew it, AMG had maneuvered itself into my daily routine. What used to feel like perusing a record store for new discoveries, became more like dropping in on old friends and asking how they were doing, albeit in a classically chatroom-lurker manner. I aligned with certain writers, certain commenters, and eagerly awaited TYMHM season to load me up with the year’s uncovered gems. Having spent so much of my life absorbing popular music due to my upbringing, and classical music due to my training, metal was a creative outlet I desperately needed, yet lacked the community with which to share it. I’d never have imagined being inducted into this hallowed crew of passionate curmudgeons, nor the long-sought camaraderie I’d find within.

AMG gave to me …

Brothers of Metal // Emblas Saga – Sometimes an album hits you just the right way, at just the right time to cement itself in the story of your life. Little did I know when I first fell in love with this baker’s dozen of Viking tomfoolery that a worldwide pandemic and a months-long lockdown with my in-laws was just around the corner. But Emblas Saga—so enthusiastically introduced to me by an effusive Holdeneye—became the soundtrack of my imprisonment. Power metal with mead and axes, the riffs stomped around, the big guy told stories, and Ylva Eriksson stole the show with so many ear-worm choruses that I was delirious halfway through the record. There isn’t a bad track throughout, and the opening salvo of “Powersnake”-“Hel”-“Chainbreaker” remains the undisputed champ for curtain-raising. Fun fact: my proudest moment of the Year of our Plague 2020 was getting my very devout Southern Baptist mother-in-law to refer to her vacuum-in-the-wall system as “the powersnake.” She still calls it that to this day. Praise be to Wotan!

Slow // VI – Dantalion – It’s 2019 and New York City’s cold was gnawing at my sanity. A lengthy commute and perpetual train delays had me at the mercy of a labyrinthine bus schedule. It’s 2 am and I’m staring down the barrel of a 90-minute journey. Armed only with a lackluster knowledge of funeral doom and the words of Muppet, I pressed play on VI – Dantalion. How unprepared I was for the tsunami that awaited me: the half-time and half-again destruction of the drums, the brash, hypnotic droning of the guitars, and the vocal roars unbound by something as useless as time. As both drummer and composer, I was mesmerized at tempo brandished so recklessly, how the performers worshiped at the altar of between-the-beat silence. But it was the climactic crescendo of “Incendiare,” the step-by-step tempo increase, the anguished strings building to a cathartic, racing release, that sold me on the beauty and agony of Dantalion. When I think of perfect funeral doom, this is the album I recall; Bell Witch be damned.

Mistur // In Memoriam – As much love as I have for the staffers here at AMG, I’m deeply grateful for the gems revealed to me by the commentariat. Doc Grier’s TYMHM for Mistur’s magnum opus predated my awareness of the blog; indeed, I was led to In Memoriam by a forgotten comment in an unrelated article many years later. I’m forever indebted to you, nameless commenter, because you led me to one of my favorite metal albums of all time: full stop, don’t pass go, don’t collect your filthy hand out money. Mistur’s brand of melo-black wields so many different sounds and styles it should end up like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” But the glorious seven minutes of opener “Downfall” instantly prove that these Norwegians are much wiser than a mouse in a fancy hat. Harsh/clean vocal interplay, RIFFS, tasteful synths, RIFFS, a spiraling maelstrom of an ending, and RIFFS showcase a band operating at their most sublime. This band had no issue beating me in the skull with their magnificence. From open to close, this album reigns supreme; I will hold vigil until they return.

I wish I had written …

White Ward – Love Exchange Failure Review. This particular review—and it’s sequel—require little introduction. Interpreting White Ward’s slinky, cinematic record as a screenplay, and featuring an AMG cast of characters was a heartbreaking work of Kenstrositous genius. Not only did the Sponge slip a rule-flaunting format through the jaws of the editorial team, he did it with wordsmithery worthy of the ethos of Love Exchange Failure. Finding a way to spruce up the routine of this gig is tricky; finding a way to blow it up is masterful. When I think of my biggest shit-eating grin moments here, this review is foremost amongst them.


Mystikus Hugebeard

AMG and me

Writing for AMG feels like the validation of an identity I’ve been working towards all my life. I’ve been passionate about metal ever since my brother showed me that fateful anime music video for “10th Man Down” by Nightwish when I was 12. Over the last few years, as I’ve been navigating adulthood and life in the tumultuous American reality, that passion withered, and I’ve put some thought into why. I often think back to when I was the leader of the St. Olaf College Heavy Metal Club, and how happy I was. I’ve realized that my time there was so important to me because, well, it gave my passion a sense of purpose beyond just myself. Maybe all I was doing was trying to introduce people to bands that they would end up not listening to anyway, but that social aspect means so much to me.

Although I know that it’s incredibly cool and special to write for such a great music website like Angry Metal Guy, what matters most in my heart is that it’s allowed me to reclaim the part of myself that just loves sharing my music with like-minded people, and it’s given back to me the community that I’d taken for granted before. So, to the AMG leaders who let me in, to my peers who somehow stomach my ramblings about Subsignal, and to every one of you who reads my silly reviews and leaves a comment: from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

AMG gave to me …

Archspire // Bleed The Future – We all know how much this album rules, but it also holds some significance for me from the early days of my AMG journey. Kronos’ review of this album dropped three days before I received the email asking if I’d like to further embarrass myself in the n00b program. I was already planning on getting it at some point based on the excellent review and 4.5 score, but after the news, buying the album felt like a great way to celebrate. I vividly remember walking down a sunny Chicago street on my way to an auto repair shop while listening to this album, feeling like hands-down the coolest motherfucker alive. I was walking past people thinking, “they have no idea they’re walking past the soon-to-be AMG writer hotshot.” Honestly, I probably looked a little like Tobey Maguire from that one scene in Spider Man 3. You know the one. But I just couldn’t help it, I was excited! I couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on my first promo and show them what I could do, to inspire other people to buy an album like Kronos inspired me.

Altars of Grief // Iris – My favorite method of musical discovery has always been blindly stumbling around Bandcamp until I bonk my head on something special. It creates a unique relationship with the music where I feel “this is my album,” and this emotional attachment gives it a powerful longevity. I recall reading Ferrous Beuller’s review of Iris and essentially thinking “huh, cool” before ignoring it like an idiot. Fast forward several months to when I came across Iris on one of my Bandcamp walks, long after forgetting about Beuller’s review, and was blown away. A nagging voice in my head said “where have I heard this before,” whereupon I remembered the review and felt quite foolish. Iris is a sublime record of unparalleled emotional depth, and a prime example of why I should just listen to the goddamn tunes already when someone on AMG gives it a 4.5. I’m glad I could find Iris on my own and develop that unique connection to it, but I regret that my pigheadedness kept me from experiencing it for so long. To this day, it’s one of my favorite black metal records.

Fires In The Distance // Air Not Meant For Us – If you held a gun to my beard and forced me to choose my favorite band, I’d say Insomnium. Hearing Air Not Meant For Us for the first time made me feel that same melancholic bliss I felt the first time I ever listened to Insomnium. Several of my AMG peers recommended this one to me while I was trying to fill out last year’s Listurnalia. Thus Spoke did a fantastic job as always in her review of the album, but something Kenstrosity said to me really stood out: “It’s almost as if this album was tailor-made specifically for me.” Well, I feel it was tailor-made for me. It sounds like an extension of my soul. I think I’ve listened to, and sung to myself, the “I’ll never see daylight / But I’ve seen enough” stanza of “Harbingers” to the point of obsession. The staccato keyboards that strike with percussive force, the achingly beautiful guitar melodies, the sorrow-tinged hope buried deep in the album as a whole; Air Not Meant For Us takes a soul-wrenching longing that I might forever struggle to put into words and transforms it into music.

I wish I had written …

Sermon of Flames – I have seen the Light, and it was Repulsive Review. I love this review. It dropped while I was working on my casting call submission, and I was floored. Sure, It’s extremely well written and demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of how the band’s sound relates to other subgenres and artists. But most importantly to me, it’s a very human review in that it acknowledges and appreciates how the album’s flaws create a unique work of art. All of my colleagues are phenomenal writers, but, to this day, I use this review as an example of the quality that I hope to achieve with my own writing. Excellent work, my Dearest Hollow!

I wish I could do over …

SgàileTraverse the Bealach Review. Truthfully, I adore Traverse the Bealach, and because of that I can’t help but feel so frustrated by its flaws. After all, you want the things you love to be perfect. A 3.5 isn’t a low score by any means, but I knew in my heart it deserved higher and I’m ashamed to say I got way too hung up on the few sections I didn’t like. And honestly, with time and distance, I’ve realized that the bad parts aren’t even all that bad, which only further salts my wounds. Just call me Mystikus Contritebeard, because I underrated this one.

I wish more people had read …

SubsignalA Poetry of Rain [Things You Might Have Missed 2023]. We all have that one band that we simply cannot shut the fuck up about. I’m already quite pleased with the positive reception Subsignal got in the comments but, at time of writing, the metrics tell me that this is my second-least-read piece, which is unacceptable! The degree to which I want people to enjoy this band the way I do borders on the unhinged, but it’s not my fault they’re just that good.


Show 7 footnotes

  1. I was actually a n00b at the time, so reading was compulsory homework in the skullpit.
  2. WTF?? – Steel
  3. I interpret this as a discussion of physical beauty and the inescapable solitude that results from negative body image. Then again, I’m probably wrong. Many of my takes on Hour of the Nightingale’s lyrics are probably “wrong,” molded by my own heart.
  4. “Days pass me by, carved out of time; I transpire before my own eyes; No decay can touch a fire; But I choke my flame, in fear of shining too bright; Or too faintly” (“Condemned to Silence”).
  5. Like a damn fool! – Carcharodon
  6. See above. – Carcharodon
  7. This will have consequences. And wengeance. Much wengeance. – Carcharodon
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